Heroes Over Europe takes an almost Michael Bay approach to World War II. While some of the missions, locations and aircraft manage an educated nod to the events of history, accuracies take a back seat for the benefit of gameplay. These Hollywood embellishments might mean a few brave fellows are turning in their graves but on the plus side, you will get the chance to fly through the streets of Berlin so close to the ground that the wheels of your de Havilland Mosquito’s landing gear leave tyre marks across the top of the Brandenburg Gate. Or sink half a dozen German Battle Cruisers with a single biplane that looks well past retirement.
This should give a pretty good idea of what to expect from the gameplay. There’s no option for a cockpit view (only variations of the same third-person view) and the HUD is absent of any distracting gauges. But then, even when using the more realistic of the two flying modes, you won’t have to worry about stalling or showing your aircraft any sort of respect. Why worry about altitude or air speed when you can fly it like you stole it? We even got an Achievement for colliding with other planes (as soon as we realised head-on crashes weren’t fatal, we thought we might as well go for it).
So, if the subtleties of flight aren’t the highest priority, what is? From what we can work out, single-handedly winning the war. Squiff and Ginger certainly aren’t much help – you can’t issue any orders to your wingmen and we didn’t see them take down an enemy off their own back. Each mission, we were dispatching an average of 60 enemies and dealing with wave after wave of Messerschmitts, Heinkels and Junkers becomes repetitive to the point of tiring. Of course, you can spice things up with Ace Kills (where you can ‘snipe’ specific points on the plane) and occasionally you’ll have to torpedo boats or take out tiny targets like sea mines but there isn’t nearly enough variety to the missions.
Heroes Over Europe, while offering accessible arcade dogfighting, feels vacuous compared to Sturmovik, which offers a more varied tour of duty and caters for arcade and simulation flying. Heroes is at its best when it’s being ridiculous. Shame that the times when it isn’t you’ll just be plowing through countless squadrons of dozy Luftwaffe. Entertaining, then, but not outstanding. Sorry, old bean.
Sep 16, 2009